When tennis stars from around the world arrive in Paris for the French Open, they will be provided with a new tool that aims to help reduce stress.
For the first time, tournament organizers will use artificial intelligence to filter out abusive comments on popular social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Tournament officials said the software has the ability to identify and filter racist, homophobic and other types of hate speech.
The French Tennis Federation will make the software created by Bodyguard.ai available to any athlete playing in this year’s tournament.
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«Social media is an important conduit for expressing hate and hostility, all under the cover of anonymity,» Yann Guerin, head of sports at Bodyguard.ai. saying. «We must be attentive to this sad reality. There is no way around it, as the cost of doing nothing is too high. We would like to thank the French Tennis Federation and the Roland-Garros organizers for joining this collective fight.» .
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Guerin added that, in many cases, tennis players are more susceptible to the direct impact of cyberbullying.
«The goal is to protect the players and their mental health directly and indirectly, because their entourage can also read these comments, and to ban people who try to spread hate and be aggressive. Tennis is one of the sports most affected by this curse».
A French Open official expressed similar sentiments regarding the importance of prioritizing players’ mental well-being.
«It’s great for the mental well-being of the players,» French Open director Amelie Mauresmo said in a press release sent to Fox New Digital. «It clears the head and will help everyone have a little more freedom on the pitch. I can’t wait to see how the players react.»
The software will be incorporated into the official Roland Garros social media platforms, in addition to the players’ social channels.
Bodyguard.ai will provide tournament officials with daily feedback reports. The company will also alert organizers to online accounts that are behaving or using abusive language. Private messages will not be filtered.
In recent years, tennis legend Serena Williams has been outspoken about the impact mental stress and anxiety had on her both on and off the court.
Four-time Glam Slam winner Naomi Osaka cited depression and anxiety when she decided to withdraw from the 2021 French Open. Osaka announced her pregnancy in January.
Several male tennis players have also acknowledged battles with depression, including Nick Kyrgio. In a social media post last year, the Australian player opened up about one of the «darkest periods» of his life.
The dark period Kyrgio referred to came around the time of the 2019 Australian Open.
He revealed that at one point he resorted to self-harm.
«Most would assume I was doing fine mentally or enjoying my life…it was one of my darkest periods,» Kyrgios wrote in an Instagram post, which featured a photo of him training. «If you look closely, in my right arm you can see my self-harm. I was having suicidal thoughts and was literally struggling to get out of bed, let alone play in front of millions.»
A number of athletes have blamed the increasing access to sports betting for the added scrutiny they are subjected to on social media.
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The famous Grand Slam on clay kicks off on Sunday and runs through June 11 at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France.